How the gig economy may affect the brewing industry

You may have heard the term “gig economy” recently, but what is it? According to Investopedia “in a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are common place and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.” For some workers, this is the preferred method of employment. For others, the thought that companies are outsourcing more and more positions to non-permanent workers can seem a little daunting.

How prevalent is the gig economy in the US? According to Intuit, currently about 34 per cent of this country’s workforce consider themselves to be non-traditional workers. By the year 2020, this number will likely reach over 40 per cent. Companies are also starting to see the value in having a flexible workforce and are increasingly open to hiring freelance workers. But is a flexible workforce truly beneficial for both workers and employers? When looking specifically at the brewing industry, there are a few pros and cons to consider regarding the new gig economy.

First the positives

From an employer perspective, flexible work arrangements can work quite well for shorter term projects. For example, if you are a smaller sized brewery looking for someone to design bottle labels, sourcing a freelancer to do the job is more cost-effective compared with hiring a full-time graphic designer. If you are only going to need certain skill sets occasionally, freelancers or consultants are a more practical solution.

As an employee, working freelance may be a preferred choice over working as a full-time employee. Working as a freelancer allows you to create a flexible schedule and work virtually anywhere which can be better for work life balance. You also have flexibility in setting your rates and choosing your clients.

Another great reason to consider hiring a freelancer or independent contractor at your brewery is to help with knowledge transfer between more experienced and junior staff.  Consider taking on semi-retired subject matter experts in your industry as independent consultants so they can mentor your employees and transfer some of their specialized knowledge to your full-time staff.

The downsides

From an employer perspective, it may be slightly more challenging to find permanent full-time employees for certain positions, as more workers choose to leave traditional employment opportunities to embark on a freelance career. Especially when considering the millennial generation, many of these workers are interested in having a flexible lifestyle that allows them to make their own hours and work where they want to.

From the employee perspective, some employers may move more positions to contract roles which will be unsettling for those who want to work as full-time employees with benefits and job security.

Looking Forward

All this being said, while the gig economy continues to grow and makes sense for shorter term projects, there will always be a need for full-time workers. Looking at the brewing industry, many organizations will likely continue to seek to fill various full-time positions including Brewmasters and Managers in order to ensure their day-to-day production continue to run smoothly.

By: Christine Juszczak